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Governor approves Georgia law to restrict ownership of farmland by ‘foreign adversaries’ • Georgia Recorder

The governor has signed a controversial measure banning agents of China and other countries labeled as foreign adversaries from buying up farmland or property near military installations in Georgia.

The legislation is part of a wave of similar bills that have swept across the country in the wake of a 2021 federal administration. report which showed that foreign investors controlled approximately 40 million acres of U.S. farmland, or about 3% of the total amount.

However, Florida’s version has been challenged in federal court and partially blocked while the case is heard.

Supporters of Georgia’s bill say the law here was narrowly written to target bad actors and in hopes of avoiding a costly lawsuit. They argue that the bans are necessary to strengthen national security at a time of rising global tensions.

“We cannot allow foreign adversaries to gain control of something as critical to our survival as our food supply,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a signing ceremony held Tuesday in Valdosta that was broadcast live.

“Rest assured, Georgia will do everything in our power to prevent bad actors from threatening our national security,” he also said.

Specifically, the bill prohibits foreign agents from countries designated as foreign adversaries by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce from purchasing agricultural land or property within 10 miles of a military site. It does not apply to homes.

Anyone who violates the new law could be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $15,000 and imprisoned for up to two years. The law comes into effect on July 1.

The Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Jason Anavitarte of Dallas, also cited China’s spy balloon ability to gather intelligence from several sensitive U.S. military sites as the reason for the measure. Anavitarte is a member of the Spanish legislative caucus.

“The Chinese government essentially confirmed our long-standing suspicions about their willingness to undermine our national security, as evidenced by their deployment of spy balloons over military installations last year,” Anavitarte said in a statement last month.

The bill was hotly debated during this year’s legislative session. Critics argued that the bill contained baffling exceptions — including one for people doing agricultural research — and said it would make real estate companies cautious about doing business with people who appear to be of Asian descent.

Several members of Georgia’s legislative caucus, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, spoke against the bill during the session.

“Any potential security benefit this bill may bring is far outweighed by the potential irreparable harm and racial discrimination that could result against American citizens of Asian and Latinx descent,” said Rep. Sam Park, a Lawrenceville Democrat who serves as a minority group. month.

Those concerns persist.

“These ban laws brand our communities as untrustworthy, blame them for the actions of another country’s government, and fan the flames of racism, xenophobia and hatred,” Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said in a statement on Tuesday .

“There is a growing coalition of Asian Americans in Georgia and across the country fighting these land bans, and we will continue to mobilize to protect our rights. Georgia is not alone in this fight.”